Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Continuing Education Program
Albany, June 8, 1998 – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a leading cause of birth defects and mental retardation, is the focus of a June 11 continuing education program for physicians who care for pregnant women and children, held at the New York State Nurses Association in Latham, NY, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: A Scientific and Clinical Perspective" is a collaboration between the Department of Health's Wadsworth Center laboratories and the Center for the Disabled.
FAS is 100 percent preventable if women hear and heed a message from their health care providers: Don't drink during pregnancy. One of the goals of the national initiative Healthy People 2000 is to increase the percent of women who abstain from alcohol during pregnancy to 95 percent. However, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that frequent alcohol consumption among pregnant women nationwide increased four–fold between 1991 and 1995.
Among the irreversible mental and physical birth defects associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are mental retardation, growth deficiencies, central nervous dysfunction, craniofacial abnormalities and behavioral problems. The CDC reports that FAS accounts for about 2,000 new cases of preventable birth defects in the U.S. each year.
"Physicians hold the key to helping prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or intervening effectively with an early diagnosis," said Commissioner of Health Barbara A. DeBuono, M.D. "This collaborative venture between the Department's researchers and the Center for Disabled's clinicians offers a comprehensive update, from the basic biological and developmental mechanisms at play to diagnostic and treatment guidelines."
Participating from the Wadsworth Center are Joseph Higgins, M.D., speaking on "Dysmorphology and Epidemiology of FAS," and Abigail Snyder–Keller, Ph.D., and William Shain, Ph.D., on "Fundamental Biochemical Mechanisms of FAS." Center for the Disabled faculty are Steven Scheiner, M.D., speaking on "Identifying and Treating Neurological Manifestations of FAS," and Virginia Khoury, M.D., on "The Psychiatric and Behavioral Management of FAS."
The Center for Disabled is a private non–profit agency located in Albany, NY, that offers extensive programs and services to individuals with disabilities from 30 counties. These include educational, therapeutic and health services, as well as specialized clinics in such areas as fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects.
"This program is a perfect example of how public and private agencies can form a partnership to work on complex problems. It is particularly gratifying to see this level of cooperation on an important health issue such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome," said Patrick J. Bulgaro, executive director of the Center.
The Medical Society of the State of New York is granting continuing medical education credit for the half–day program. For information, call Wadsworth Center's Education and Development office at (518) 474–6196.